The Permanent Representatives’ Committee is an organ that is composed of permanent representatives accredited to the Union and other duly accredited Plenipotentiaries of member states. A member state shall be represented in the Permanent Representatives’ Committee by a permanent representative who is a resident in the specified place, may designate another country from its region to represent it.
The Permanent Representatives’ Committee shall be mandated to multifaceted tasks of which most of them are subservient to the functions of the Executive Council. Rule 4 of the Rules of Procedure of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee lists down the powers and functions of the Committee.
Powers and Functions
1. The Permanent Representatives’ Committee shall inter-alia:
a. Act as an advisory body to the Executive Council;
b. Prepare the meetings of the Executive Council, including the Executive Council;
c. Prepare the meetings of the Executive Council, including the agenda and draft decisions;
d. Make recommendations on areas of common interest to member states particularly on issues on the agenda of the Executive Council;
e. Facilitate communication between the Commission and the Capitals of member states;
f. Consider the program and Budget of the Union as well as administrative, budgetary and financial matters of the Commission and make recommendations to the Executive Council;
g. Consider the financial report of the Commission and make recommendations to the Executive Council;
h. Consider the report of the Board of External Auditors and submit written comments to the Executive Council;
i. Monitor the implementation of the budget of the Union;
j. Propose the composition of the Bureaus of the organs of the Union ad-hoc committees, and sub-committees;
k. Consider matters relating to the programs and projects of the Union particularly issues relating to the socio-economic development and integration of the continent and make recommendations thereon to the Executive Council.
l. Monitor the implementation of the policies, decisions and agreements adopted by the Executive Council,
m. Participate in the preparation of the program of Activities of the Union;
n. Participate in the preparations of the calendar of the meetings of the Union;
o. Consider any matter assigned to it by the Executive Council;
p. carries out any other functions that may be assigned to it by the Executive Council.
2. The Permanent Representatives’ Committee may set up such ad-hoc committees and temporary working groups, as it deems necessary, including a sub-committee on Headquarters and Host Agreement, NEPAD and the Cairo Plan of Action of the Africa/Europe Summit.
The above list of the power and functions of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee can speak for itself and there seem no need to make elaborate them. As regards to its mode of operation, the Committee’s Rules of Procedure provide with a very similar, if not completely identical, rules with that of the Executive Council. The notable difference between the two is a difference in terminologies owing to the different names that the two organs of the Union have. Therefore, the material will not dare to make a verbose attempt to go to the details of the Rules of Procedure of the Permanent Representatives’ Committee.
The Specialized Technical Committees
It was stated in 3.2 above that the Executive Council of the African Union is mandated to coordinate and take decisions on policies in areas of common interest to the member states. These areas of common interest are of multifaceted character. The Executive Council is, however, not a body that comprises with experts in the fields to which it is mandated. This establishes a prima-facie case to suggest on the indispensable organ, composed of experts that can assist the Executive Council in pursuing its agenda.
It was mainly due to the above stated rationale that Article 14 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union legally established the Specialized Technical Committees as an organ of the African Union. As justified by its rationale, the Specialized Technical committees were made responsible to the Executive Council of the African Union. The constitutive Act established seven Specialized Technical committees. These are:
- The Committee on Rural Economy and Agricultural Matters;
- The Committee on Monetary anFfinancial Affairs;
- The Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters;
- The Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment;
- The Committee on Transport, Communications and Tourism;
- The Committee on Health, Labor and Social Affairs; and
- The Committee on Education, Culture and Human Resources.
The above mentioned committees shall be composed of delegates who have the responsibility to sectors falling within their respective areas of competence. The Assembly of the African Union is mandated to restructure the seven committees or to establish other specialized committees, as it deems necessary.
Article 15 of the Constitutive Act provides the functions of the seven specialized technical committees. The functions are put in such a generic form that they do not specifically refer to any of the committees on a specified basis. Rather, it provides a guideline of what each Specialized Technical Committees shall focus on.